In recent years, people are starting to become a lot more health conscious then they used to be, especially when it comes to buying food. As a result, this is forcing big food manufacturers to change what they sell or most often change the manner in which their food is labeled.
Many companies are now starting to put “all natural” or “100% natural” on their food products so people feel comfortable and safe when buying certain foods. I’m sure you see multiple labels like these when you go grocery shopping, but don’t be deceived. Natural is not the same as organic. For example, if your buying beef that says, “100% natural,” it doesn’t mean that beef was from a free-range cow who ate only grass as its diet (cows eat grass, not corn in nature). Similarly, other health claims like “no high fructose corn syrup” doesn’t mean that the food product doesn’t have sugar in it or that it’s natural (i.e. bread). If you really want natural foods, only buy organic, but even then you have to cautious of what you buy.
Buying organic produce is pretty straightforward because there is only one ingredient: the actual food itself (apple, spinach, avocado, etc.). However, when buying prepackaged organic food, such as rice chips, you may see an ingredient that says “caramel color” that really isn’t organic. Although the package may say “organic” it doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have tons or sugar, fat, and salt. Junk food is still junk food whether it’s labeled organic or not. Sure, it may be slightly better for you than its conventional counterpart, but don’t be fooled by food product labeling. Companies are very clever in their marketing efforts and they will bend or go around as many laws or regulations as they can get away with. Just check out this study done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for proof.
My advice for you is to make sure to read the whole ingredient list and then evaluate the nutrition label to see if it’s completely accurate. A common example, or deception, is how companies can say there’s 0 grams of trans-fat in their product if it has less than .5 grams of it. Stay away from foods like these in addition foods claiming “low-fat” and “lite.” When a food has this type of health claim, it is most likely chemically processed in some way that is not natural (i.e. low-fat yogurt). Also be wary of substitutes for other common ingredients, such as sugar and fiber, and just listen to your gut if you’re not sure. Odds are, you’ll know if it’s good for you or not. So the next time you go grocery shopping, don’t be fooled and make the right choice.
Thanks for reading, and tell me how you read labels (if you do) when you go grocery shopping.
Learn more about labeling required by the FDA
Learn more about common health food claims